Cook Children’s child care center helps working parents stay engaged

Cook Children's Child Care Center

High-quality, affordable child care is critical for most working parents. However, finding the right child care for your family has become increasingly problematic, especially since federal funds supporting child care benefits halted in late 2023. According to the Center for American Progress, roughly half (48%) of Texans live in areas designated as child care deserts. Some areas surrounding Dallas and Fort Worth, where many employees and potential recruits reside, have fewer than five child care seats per 100 children available to meet the needs of working parents, according to Children at Risk. Such barriers not only hinder parents' ability to participate in the workforce but also contribute to perpetuating economic disparities.


Flexible Hours, Quality Care Attract and Retain Talent

According to Cheryl Peterson, Senior Vice President of Nursing and Patient Services, "One of the greatest challenges for nurses with young children is the limited times that most child care centers are open. It rarely matches health care workers' schedules. The Bright Horizons center at Cook Children's maintains hours that support longer nursing shifts."


Finding people who have pediatric skills, especially when you narrow that to the particular specialties we cover, is truly hard,” says Beth Schmidt, Vice President of Human Resources, Occupational Health and Employee Well-being. A recent national survey reported that less than five percent of nurses focus on pediatric specialties. It doesn’t help that the nursing workforce overall has lost hundreds of thousands of experienced RNs and LPNs/LVNs in recent years or that more than a quarter plan to leave nursing or retire over the next five years, according to the same survey. And, while the nursing workforce has grown younger and more diverse, women still constitute the majority.


That complicates the challenge since women retain the major responsibility for caregiving, and roughly 47% of RNs and 42% of LPNs/LVNs cite home and family responsibilities as their reason for not working, per the Journal of Nursing Regulation. "Having extended hours is really beneficial," says working mother and clinical pharmacy coordinator, Alice Yeh. "Sometimes I stay late. Some days I need to come in earlier. Having that wide flexibility supports my ability to work things into my schedule and do my job better."


"When I tell people we're interviewing that we have on-site child care at Cook Children's, their reaction is the same: they immediately want to know more. While finding child care is a challenge, what's truly hard is finding the right child care. Working parents are looking for those extra things that make an employer stand out," says James Rodriguez, Manager of Talent Acquisition at Cook Children's, and a parent whose son attends the center. "The Bright Horizons Center teachers play a huge role in guiding our children in the early stages of their lives."

Benefits Beyond Convenience

Employees with children in the NAEYC-accredited Bright Horizon Center praise the quality and dedication of the teachers, celebrate the educational and social benefits their children gain, and acknowledge that their children's progress makes their own lives easier and more joyful. Not only is drop-off and pick-up efficient, but having their children nearby makes parental drop-ins during work breaks easy and visits by nursing mothers, or fathers who want to bottle-feed, convenient.Bright Horizons enabled my husband and me to be at work doing what we were paid to do. It provided the help we need to raise our children,” says Schmidt.


Yeh adds, "I learned from the teachers how much my toddler loves to read. I appreciate that it's carried over to our home life. My son is learning to clean up after himself. At home, he jumps in to help. One of the biggest benefits we've seen is social development; they learn from being with other children."


A 10-year employee whose children all attended the center claims the experience has had long-term benefits. "I really feel like the foundational curriculum that my son received at the Bright Horizons Center has helped him succeed in elementary school," says Matthew Reed, a pain management clinical therapist. "The on-site child care has been a huge benefit for my family and, honestly, one of the reasons why we've stayed at Cook for so long."


"As an employer, we need to be able to compete with other entities out there," Schmidt says. "Providing on-site child care that meets the development needs of employees' children as they grow, and that offers the flexible hours our nurses and other health care professionals need, is key to keeping our employees engaged and fully invested in their work."

Meeting evolving employee needs and stress points

The healthcare system also recognizes that caregiving responsibilities go beyond the youngest of children. “One thing we are hearing more about is the challenges of employees who have older parents and aging or ill spouses,” says Schmidt. With the median age of RNs and LPNs/LVNs nationally being 46 and 47, respectively, it’s not surprising that many are supporting older children and aging parents.  

“Through our partnership with Bright Horizons, we offer emergency back-up care. This gives employees access to elder care services and other support for dependents, including pre-vetted in-home care when needed. It can help families when their primary service provider is temporarily or unexpectedly closed. It removes some of the stress and worry employees face, so they can better focus on their work here,” says Schmidt.  

“Whether someone is able to work full time or in a different capacity often depends on the needs of their family,” says Peterson. “The wellness of our nurses and of their families is important to us because a culture of caring is really at the heart of the services we provide. How we care for our employees has a lasting effect on how they provide care to our patients. Back-up care and the on-site child care development center that Bright Horizons manages for us are key ways we support workers and keep our floors staffed.” 

Bright Horizons
About the Author
Bright Horizons
Bright Horizons
In 1986, our founders saw that child care was an enormous obstacle for working parents. On-site centers became one way we responded to help employees – and organizations -- work better. Today we offer child care, elder care, and help for education and careers -- tools used by more than 1,000 of the world’s top employers and that power many of the world's best brands
Cook Children's Child Care Center